Recently, some very striking demographic analysis has been undertaken into Irish population trends. To cut a long story (or perhaps, a rather intricate analysis) short, it has been suggested that by the year 2050 Ireland could have a population of 20 million (rather than the current 5 million or so), and that fewer than 6 million of these would then be indigenous Irish. If the trends on which this analysis is based continue, then Ireland would in just over one generation have been transformed from having the genetically most homogeneous population in Europe to having one of the most diverse. Indeed, the ‘old’ Irish would not even make up the biggest population group: that would be the Chinese.
This is interesting to me not least because, over the past year, I have visited China twice, and so this has caused me to muse how a ‘Chinese’ Ireland might appear in a few years time, and what it might mean — including what it might mean to organised religion. In China, things are changing faster than any of us could imagine in our own environment. Some of it is rampant materialism, but China is not a country without a hunger for something more profound. My guess is that a Chinese population in Ireland will be an innovative and tolerant and energetic population; those already here show all those signs.
So while I have been musing on this, the Anglican primates meeting in Ireland have been dealing with their own intercultural issues. They have had to confront the reality of a western liberal culture coming under attack, and in an elaborate ritual of trying to sit down somewhere more or less on top of the fence have, predictably, failed to be comfortable in this posture. Nobody could, with any confidence, try to predict what the Anglican family of the year 2050 will look like, based on this evidence from the prelates. But there are few signs that anyone is trying to construct a forward-looking vision of an intercultural Christian world.
My own instinct is to say that western liberalism — at least where it stresses the dignity of human lifestyles which do not hurt or oppress — is by now very well rooted in these soils, and will survive the new cultural mix, and possibly even thrive in it. Our new world is about releasing innovative energy, and not about trying to shoehorn all life and culture into a narrow selection of time capsules.
The church may turn out to be relevant to this, or it may turn out to be just a ghost. The time has come for us to assert the right of Christianity to be a signpost to the future, and not just a grim reminder of some of the less pleasant aspects of our past. We must celebrate diversity and renewal, not be frightened by it. It’s time to realise that the place for Christians is not on the fence.
My own analysis of The Anglican Communion Primates’ Meeting Communiqué, February 2005
can be found on Anglicans Online at The Primates Meeting at Dromantine, February 2005.
Canon Michael Kennedy has sent us this full report on the service of Evensong which was held in Armagh Cathedral on Tuesday at the second day of the Primates’ Meeting:
A service of Choral Evensong was held in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, on Tuesday 22 February 2005 to mark the visit of the primates of the Anglican Communion at which the preacher was the Archbishop of Canterbury…
The service was attended not only by the primates but by the bishops of the Church of Ireland, ecumenical representatives including the Most Revd Dr Sean Brady (Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland), and the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Canon Ken Kearon, and his assistant. The Dean and Chapter and other cathedral clergy were present, together with the members of the clergy of Armagh Diocese and the Diocesan Lay Readers and representatives of the parishes of the Diocese. The large procession concluded impressively with the Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Dr John Neill (Primate of Ireland) preceded by the Metropolitan Cross of Dublin; the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Dr Rowan Williams (Primate of All England) preceded by the Primatial Cross of Canterbury; and the Most Revd Dr Robin Eames (Primate of All Ireland) preceded by the Primatial Cross of Armagh.
The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the Rt Hon Paul Murphy, MP and the representative of the government of the Irish Republic, Mr Noel Tracy, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, were present and seated at the front of the nave.
The service was Evening Prayer Two from the 2004 edition of the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of Ireland with the psalms and canticles in traditional mode (as permitted within the Prayer Book), and it was intoned by the senior clerical vicar choral, the Revd Canon Michael Kennedy. The organist was Theo Saunders, FRCO who played Siciliano for a High Ceremony by Herbert Howells (before the service) and Resurgam - Fantasy-Prelude by Harvey Grace (after the service). The head chorister, Liam Crangle, a gifted young organist in his first year at the Royal School Armagh, played the Slow Movement from Trio in Eb by J.S. Bach before the service.
The theme of the service (chosen for its relevance to the subject-matter of the Primates’ Meeting) was “The Family or Household of God”, and the strong emphasis on fellowship and praise was well represented by the choice of psalms 133 (“Behold how good and joyful a thing it is: brethren to dwell together in unity”) and 134 “Behold now praise the Lord”. The lessons (read by Archbishop Joseph Marona of the Province of the Sudan and Moderator Peter Sugandhar of the Church of South India) were Exodus 19:1-6 (“a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”) and Ephesians 2:13-22 (“fellow citizens of the saints and members of the household of God”). In an altogether admirable sermon, the Archbishop of Canterbury wove thoughts from both passages into his address, applying these in a relevant and balanced way suitable to the occasion, pausing slightly from time to time to allow the message to sink in.
The choral foundation in Armagh in its modern form dates from a Charter of Charles I given in 1634, but can be traced back through the period of the Reformation to the ancient Culdees who were responsible for the music and the liturgy from the eighth century AD. The former organist Martin White (1968-2002, now a lay canon) managed the difficult transition from a partly paid choir to an all voluntary one. Theo Saunders (organist from 2002) has brought in a number of new choristers. Of the twelve present at the Primates’ Service, five were probationers, and all except the head chorister are comparatively recent recruits. Together with the “Gentlemen of the choir” they rose nobly to the occasion. The versicles and responses were those of Aylward, and the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis were sung to Noble in B minor. The anthem was “O Thou the Central Orb” by Charles Wood (who was born on Vicars’ Hill and received his musical foundation in Armagh) who is commemorated by the prestigious “Charles Wood Summer School” at the end of August each year.
An emphasis on the Irish dimension was also evident in the choice of hymns, “Be thou my vision”, and the St Patrick’s Breastplate sung in full to the Stanford accompaniment. The office hymn was “O Christ the same” by Timothy Dudley-Smith to the tune of the Londonderry Air. Other hymns were the processionals “All my hope on God is founded” for the entrance, and “The Church’s one Foundation” (on the way out). The highlight was undoubtedly the Breastplate “I bind unto myself today” sung with tremendous enthusiasm by the entire congregation. The sense of participation was quite extraordinary in a building which, small for a cathedral, has a rare quality of being both intimate and splendid with an atmosphere highly conducive to praise and prayer.
The cathdral itself traces its history back to St Patrick who, in one of the lives is said to have been given the hill on which it stands to him to build his Damhliag Mor or Great Stone Church by Daire, a local chieftain, traditionally in 445 AD. It is estimated that in its history the cathedral has been destroyed and rebuilt at least seventeen times — it was destroyed twice by great Irish patriots (Shane O’Neill in 1566 and Sir Phelim O’Neill in 1642). A major renovation took place under Archbishop Lord John George Beresford between 1834 and 1840 with later improvements including the magnificent reredos depicting the Last Supper (with a most villainous looking Judas slipping off with the money bag in the corner) installed in 1913. The organ, a superb instrument, was made by the famous Walker firm in 1840, and was beautifully restored by the Northern Irish firm Wells-Kennedy in 1996. An eleventh century Celtic cross broken in sectarian strife in 1813 was brought into the cathedral by Dean McClintoch in 1916 and stands in the north aisle near a stained glass window which, to the delight of generations of school children includes a boy with two left feet!
During the service (the Archbishop of Armagh occupying the throne on the south side of the chancel) the Archbishop of Canterbury sat on the famous Bramhall chair, given to the Cathedral by Archbishop John Bramhall (1661-3) at the time of the Restoration, and the Archbishop of Dublin sat on the Margetson chair, given by Bramhall’s successor.
Clearly this service took place at a tense and difficult time for the churches of the Anglican Communion. It is hoped that the music and the liturgy in Armagh Cathedral, combined with the Gospel message of reconciliation and peace and common membership of the Church which is the Body of Christ will prove to have been an inspiration for the Primates as they have thought and prayed together about matters of common concern. The occasional prayers, led by the Dean of Armagh, the Very Revd Herbert Cassidy, included a petition to “maintain the bonds of affection between the churches of the Anglican family — our household of faith.
Press coverage continues…
Associated Press Nigerians, Anglicans Clash Over Gays
Telegraph Clifford Longley It’s independence day - again
Observer Will Hutton A schism that threatens us all
The BBC World Service has an interview with Josiah Idowu-Fearon (about 27 minutes, starts about 30 seconds into the recording)
…In this week’s edition of The Interview, Owen Bennett-Jones goes to the heart of the matter in his conversation with Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Archbishop of Kaduna state in Nigeria.
Nigeria’s Anglican church - one of the biggest communities in the communion - has led the criticism over the appointment of homosexual clergy. The row began in 2003 when the American Episcopal Church ordained an openly gay bishop…
The BBC radio programme Sunday which has a larger audience than many Sunday newspapers sell copies carried this:
Primates Meeting listen here with Real Audio (14 minutes)
Was it a fudge, the beginning of the end, or a step back from the brink? I refer to the communique issued by the Primates of the Anglican Communion at the end of their crisis meeting in Northern Ireland this week. One observer said “The Primates have handed the North Americans a pearl handled revolver”. The communique dealt almost exclusively with the split between the North American churches, which have consecrated as bishop someone who has a homosexual partner and which have blessed same sex marriages, and conservative Christians in the rest of the world who believe practising homosexuality is a sin, and who have called for the liberal North Americans to repent. Caught in the middle is the Archbishop of Canterbury. Roger hears from the conservative Archbishop of the West Indies, Drexel Gomez, and the Presiding Bishop of Ecusa, Frank Griswold, and then talks live to The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, from Lambeth Palace.
Press Association report on the above radio interview, Williams Admits Gay Row has Caused Serious “Fractures”
BBC report of the interview Williams admits church ‘fracture’
BBC World Service Divine division? listen here
Graham Kings and Stephen Bates interviewed about the Primates’ Meeting on BBC World Service World Update (hat tip KH)
Some other items not reported earlier:
BBC interview of a spokesman for Peter Akinola, on Saturday’s Today Programme: listen here (3.5 minutes)
Toronto Globe and Mail Top cleric faces rift among Anglicans
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Steve Levin Anglicans push U.S. church off key council
Two Church of Ireland press releases:
Irish Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) members comment on recent devlopments in the Anglican Communion
Bishop of Cork asks: “Has Anglican Primates’ Meeting exceeded its powers?”
Press coverage of the meeting continues.
Updated Saturday 9 a.m.
Church Times has updates to the paper edition:
Pat Ashworth Primates speak of ‘miraculous’ unanimity
and an editorial Fall-out from the Primates’ Meeting
(earlier report Let Christ unite you, Primates advised)
Ruth Gledhill Americans must admit gay error, says Church
THE Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, made it clear yesterday that the Anglican churches of the US and Canada will have to admit that they are in the wrong over homosexuality if the unity of the Anglican Church is to be preserved.
Dr Williams, speaking in Northern Ireland at the end of the week-long primates’ discussions of the crisis that has brought the Church to the brink of schism, said: “There is no painless solution.
“Any lasting solution will require people to say, somewhere along the line, that they were wrong, wrong about something. What, I do not know. That is for them to determine. It is perfectly possible to take a decision in good faith and afterwards to think, ‘I had not counted the cost’.” …
and an editorial article Come on all ye faithful
…Were God to focus on the question of elevating homosexuals to the Anglican episcopate, He would, presumably, distinguish at once between disagreement based on genuine respect for Scripture, and the contortion of Scripture in order to camouflage mere prejudice. There seems little doubt, however, that the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church in Canada have undervalued unity in their precipitate and unilateral moves in favour of same-sex unions and gay bishops. Neither development is necessarily incompatible with Anglican harmony in the long term, but in the short term the suspension of both churches from the Anglican Consultative Council is wise. Time has been bought, and, God willing, sanity and sanctity will prevail.
Stephen Bates Church schism feared despite deal on gays
Owen Bowcott ‘Punishment is for doing what we are all meant to do’
Mark Lawson His only ‘ism’ is schism
and an editorial Divided they stand
Jonathan Petre Church remains at risk of schism on homosexuality, warns Williams
and an editorial Anglicans must fight to keep their Communion
No easy solution to Anglican split, says Williams
and an editorial (text below the fold).
Deal averts split over gay bishops
New York Times
Move to Halt Delegations Is Challenging Episcopalians
Episcopalians Affirm Pro-Gay View
Sydney Morning Herald
Anglican leaders split over gays
National Public Radio
Gay Issues Cause Dischord Within Anglican Union
Anglican Primates Meeting
Episcopal News Service has a page of material, including audio of the press conference and an interview with Frank Griswold:
Primates Meeting 2005 - News and Resources
The BBC has done a major write-through of the story at this URL now titled Lasting split looms for Anglicans which also includes links to a substantial video clip of the press conference and a BBC TV news report.
An act of intolerance by the Anglican church
However the church leaders explain it, the Anglican communion is now heading for an irrevocable split over the issue of gay bishops and single-sex marriage. In a very Church of England manner the primates meeting in Newry, Northern Ireland, yesterday tried to put an emollient gloss on their decision to ask the offending Episcopal Church in the US and the Church of Canada to withdraw their representatives from the governing body of the worldwide church, saying that the withdrawal was only “temporary” to give them time to reconsider their position.
Temporary in this case, however, is all too likely to lead to permanent exclusion. The two recalcitrant churches are in no mood to change their mind on gay marriage and clergy. Nor is there any reason why they should. Their congregations feel that, in the modern world, the church must come to terms with the sexuality of its flock as it is practicised. The teachings of Christ, on their interpretation, do not condemn it. Why should they?
For the majority of the primates called together for this meeting, however, there can be no temporising with the traditional interpretation of the scriptures. Marriage between man and woman is the sacred centre of family life. To sanction sexuality in any other form would be to betray the church’s dearest beliefs. And it is the traditionalists that are in the ascendant not just in the Third World but in the fastest growing parts of the church here..
The Anglican church is not alone in this. The Roman Catholics have similar tensions, only partially suppressed by the authority and conservatism of the present pope. But the Roman Catholic church has the advantage of a disciplined institution in which obedience has a high priority. Anglicanism has always made a virtue of its ambiguity and its willingness to tolerate a broad spectrum of views within its ranks.
In this context yesterday’s decision of its worldwide leaders can only be regarded as a negative one. The majority said that they were not prepared to continue communing with the US and Canadian churches while they proceeded on their liberal path. And it was the majority that prevailed. The responsibility for the split was placed firmly on the two North American churches, the onus for mending the fissure was clearly put on their shoulders. That is wrong for the church and wrong for its future.
updated Friday evening
ACNS picture of the press briefing here
Anglican rift grows over gay row (This story has now been updated to reflect the briefing)
Anglicans deny gay clergy split
Q&A: Anglican church split
Anglican Leaders Ask U.S. to Leave Council
and, later Archbishop: Anglicans Could Face Division
Archibishop acknowledges the Church may split
Should the Anglican Church split over homosexuals?
Lesbian and gay Anglicans deny schism
Gay issue widening Anglican divisions
Anglican Church Divisions Over Gays Widens
North American Anglicans Defend Gay Policies
In Anglican Report, There’s Something for Everyone, Once Again
Further American responses from ENS
A word from the Presiding Bishop
Anglican primates uphold unity in response to Windsor Report
Further Canadian response via Anglican Journal
Church sanctions could have been worse: primate
Reports filed before the briefing:
Press Association Church Warned over Stance on Homosexuality
Sydney Morning Herald Sex drives wedge in Anglican ranks
Associated Press Anglican Leaders Seek Split Over Gay Issue
Due to the early issuance of the Primates Meeting Communiqué the press briefing at Dromantine has been rescheduled to 2 30 pm.
ACO press release Explanatory note: The Anglican Consultative Council
The ACO website has (or will have) additional material relating to the primates’ Windsor Report discussions (these are mentioned in the footnotes to the communique itself):
PRESENTATION OF THE WINDSOR REPORT 2004 by Archbishop Robin Eames - this is 5 pages on the web
Reception Process Report Given by Primus Bruce Cameron at the Primates Meeting 2005 - this is 8 pages on the web and leads to Powerpoint slides and PDF files#
British press coverage this morning:
Press Association Church Tells Pro-Gay Anglicans to ‘Consider Position’
Reuters Anglicans Face Temporary Split in Gay Row
Guardian Church faces schism today
The Times Anglicans ready to split over gay bishop
Independent Gay row forces split with North American Anglicans
Telegraph Anglicans give ultimatum to pro-gay liberals
Audio of first report on BBC Today Programme at 0632 listen here (3 minutes)
Second report at 0709 listen here (6 minutes) - interviews with Steven Charleston and Philip Giddings
Third report at 0810 listen here (6 minutes) interview with Peter Carnley
Anglican rift grows over gay row
BBC Analysis: Anglican schism nears reality
Can Anglican rift be resolved? invites comments from the public. Thinking Anglicans encourages you to comment to the BBC.
New York Times Anglican Leaders Seek Move to Avoid Schism
Los Angeles Times U.S., Canada Churches Urged to Leave Key Anglican Council
A Statement from the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada
Anglican Journal Primates move to sanction North American churches
Primates’ Meeting Communiqué - From the Presiding Bishop:
The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Bishop Frank Griswold, has issued this statement about the communiqué:
“The primates of the Anglican Communion and Moderators of the United Churches have just completed their work on the attached communiqué which gives some sense of our meeting this week in Northern Ireland. These days have not been easy for any of us and the communiqué reflects a great deal of prayer and the strong desire to find a way forward as a Communion in the midst of deep differences which have been brought into sharp relief around the subject of homosexuality.
“Clearly, all parts of the communiqué will not please everyone. It is important to keep in mind that it was written with a view to making room for a wide variety of perspectives. I continue to have faith and confidence in the many ways in which the mystery of communion is lived among us, and am grateful that bonds of understanding and affection to bind us together and call us to an ever deeper and more costly living out of the reconciliation brought about by Jesus through the Cross. Again this week it was revealed that so much more unites us than divides us.”
“The Presiding Bishop will make a further comment tomorrow.”
The Primates, meeting in Northern Ireland, have issued this communiqué
The main points seem to be:
The BBC referred this morning to the “Battle for the political heart of Anglicanism” being fought out at Armagh between the Anglican primates, over issues about same sex couples.
It is fascinating that this is seen as a particularly Anglican issue, when the same difficulties are found in other churches, as a Baptist observer said at the Church of England’s General Synod last week. The reason must lie in the history of the Anglican Church, the close founding link of Church and state, particularly in the way that relations were defined and described in Richard Hooker’s monumental Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity 400 years ago. Since that time, with bishops in the House of Lords, there has been a close correspondence between the laws of Church and State to the extent that it is often difficult to discover which is which. We’re reaping some of the problems associated with this in the upsets over the marriage plans of Prince Charles and Camilla, and it is fascinating to find that European Human Rights legislation needs to be invoked to say they can legally marry in an English register office outside the gates of Windsor Castle.
Whilst the Church of England was little more than a national church (leaving aside the Scottish Episcopal Church and its great legacy to the Episcopal Church of the USA) it might have seemed that laws of Church and State could be seen to correspond. But, with the growth of the British Empire and the exporting of the national church into other cultures, conflicts were bound to arise.
A particular problem was the prevailing polygamy found in of parts of Africa. Whilst Christianity did not allow polygamy, there was a certain tolerance of it for those who were not Christians, and often a blind eye was turned to the ancient droit de seigneur of local rulers to collect a large harem of young women. Things only came to a head when Mwanga, the ruler of Uganda in 1886, wanted boys, not girls, for his bed. The Christian pages began to refuse his advances, so he had them put to death. They included Catholics and Anglicans. On their way to the place of execution, these young Christians sang hymns in honour of the Lord and some were still singing when the flames surrounded them. Since then they have been regarded as founding martyrs of the Christian Church. It is salutary to think, however, that few people would have shed tears over maids in waiting, had the ruler preferred girls. Not surprisingly, the Church of Uganda, in honouring its founding martyrs, strongly opposes homosexual relationships today, as Britain did in the time when Oscar Wilde went to prison.
So long as the Empire continued, many local cultures were suppressed. Today, with the independence of nations which were once British, the differences emerge. Pakistan is a largely Muslim country, competent to make its own laws. In Muslim law it is legal for a man to take four wives. The Christian Church there, whilst holding different views, would never dare to advocate these for anyone outside their own flock. Equally, the Christians there know that the acceptance of homosexual relationships would lead to the burning of Christian churches and the persecution of Christians. The Church is not in a position to advocate different rules from those of the state.
In a worldwide Communion, Anglicans have to accept that we are not in the driving seat when it comes to making laws. There is in Pakistan, in Uganda, and in other places a complete abhorrence of homosexual activity.
Equally, in Europe, it is secular Human Rights law which is in the driving seat, not the laws of national churches. Today the British Navy asks the advice of gay rights groups about the best way to encourage recruitment of homosexual men and women. Gay rights are enshrined in the law of the land. They are seen as just as important as the rights of people of different races, or the rights of women, and all are protected by law.
In much of Europe, in the USA, and in Canada, discrimination against gay people is now being consigned to history, along with slavery and the lack of universal suffrage. It is only shameful that the Church, which was in the forefront of the campaign to free slaves, still treats women and gay people as being less than fully human, with impaired human rights. Speaking out and saying that a faith founded on the incarnation has to be a faith which respects the dignity of all people has required great courage. Fundamentalism still tries to steal the political heart of the Anglican Church. There is a rearguard action against the ordination of women to the episcopate.
In much of the USA, Canada, Britain and Southern Africa, the battle is over. National laws guarantee the rights of women, of gay people and different races. The Church is doing little more than catching up with what governments, nationally and internationally, have agreed.
At the same time it is totally impossible for Anglicans in many other parts of the world to uphold a viewpoint which is so much at odds with their own national culture and laws. Pakistan and Uganda will want to be different. But we need to be grown up enough to accept that.
The Anglican Communion was never intended to be, and cannot be monolithic. We have to accept (Article 34 in the Prayer Book) that there will be national differences. “It is not necessary that Traditions and Ceremonies in all places be one, and utterly like; for at all times they have been divers, and may be changed according to the diversities of countries.”
These articles were honed out of the bitter controversies of the Reformation, out of the martyrdom of John Fisher, Thomas More, Ridley, Latimer, Cranmer and the rest. And in the time of Elizabeth people realised that there had to be an end to blood letting. Christians had to learn to live together in peace, and respect differences of conscience and custom. We need to learn the lesson again.
updated Thursday afternoon
News from Northern Ireland today is in fact non-existent, but tomorrow there will be a press conference at 5.30 pm
Primates Meeting Press Briefing
and The Living Church reports
Team to Prepare Final Statement of Primates
The BBC Radio 4 Today Programme has this report followed by a discussion with Peter Jensen and Colin Slee: listen here (Real Audio)
Toronto Globe and Mail Anglican churches battle over conflicting beliefs
The Church of England Newspaper has these reports, related to the Northern Ireland meeting:
Primates take first step to implement Windsor
Synod backs Windsor as liberals receive warning
Primates Meeting: the key players
Belfast Telegraph Gay row: Anglican leaders prepare update
The Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 received Royal Assent in July 2003. It is likely to come into effect towards the end of this year. There is a very good summary of both the current and new arrangements here on the Oxford diocesan website. Note however that the new measure does not apply to “matters involving doctrine, ritual or ceremonial”. These will continue to be governed by the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure 1963.
Before the new arrangements can come into effect, Rules (to carry into effect the provisions of the Measure) and a Code of Practice (providing guidance, explanation and best practice) need to be finalised by the Rule Committee and the Clergy Discipline Commission respectively, approved by Synod and, in the case of the Rules, laid before Parliament in the form of a Statutory Instrument under the ‘negative resolution’ procedure.
The Rule Committee and the Commission have drafted the Rules and the Code of Practice and they are now seeking comments. Full details of the consultation and how to make comments are here.
The measure and the drafts are online here:
The drafts are each about 3.5 MB and contain a total of 139 pages.
The intention is that the Rules and Code of Practice will be brought to General Synod for approval in July 2005. As a result the closing date for the consultation is midday on Tuesday 5 April 2005 and this deadline will be strictly observed.
The members of the Clergy Discipline Commission are listed here.
Morning reports from British journalists in Northern Ireland:
Ruth Gledhill in The Times
Church plea for unity over gays
This is the prepared text for the maiden speech given by Brian Lewis in the General Synod debate on the Windsor Report last Thursday. Brian is Rector of St Michael & All Angels, Little Ilford (Manor Park)in the Diocese of Chelmsford.
I felt very disappointed when I read the House of Bishops report on the Windsor Report. In his Advent Pastoral letter the Archbishop had written that one of the deepest challenges of the Windsor Report is about repentance. And in the Church we can never call on others to repent without ourselves acknowledging that we too in all sorts of ways are sinners in need of grace. We all need to be involved in this repentance, and it seems to me that this recognition that we all need to repent is missing from the Bishops’ report.
The current crisis in the Anglican Communion and the need for the Windsor report is apparently because of the different ways that different parts of the Communion approach the subject of homosexuality. For nearly thirty years now, successive Lambeth Conferences have addressed the question of homosexuality and called on us as the Anglican Communion to engage in a process of dialogue, study and listening. For nearly thirty years we have largely ignored that call, and we have totally ignored the way that other parts of the communion, specifically those parts of the Communion who have had most difficulty coming to terms with what has happened in New Hampshire, have refused to engage in that process. We do need to be repentant of how we have handled that. We have failed the wider communion when we have not used opportunities to share the dialogues we have been able to have in this country simply because it is legal to have those dialogues. You may have heard about a radio station in Nigeria broadcasting a programme which had three gay Nigerians talking about their lives. That programme was against the law. The radio station was fined for simply allowing gay people, in a secular context, to talk about their lives. We need to take account of how difficult it is for people to share their experiences in other parts of the communion and we might have done much more to help.
Working in East London odd opportunities arise. One Sunday morning, unannounced, five Kenyan priests arrived in church for the Sunday Eucharist - they were travelling through on the way back from a conference. It was just before the Archbishop’s enthronement, they had heard that he had ordained a gay man, so we talked about what that meant in our culture. About the place of gay people in our society, about what it means to be gay in our culture. I talked about my pastoral experience, about a bereavement visit where the widow quite naturally introduced her son and his partner as her second son. My visitors were astounded, it was a revelation to them that such a thing could happen. As I talked about the place gay people have in our culture, they talked about Kenyan society, about marriage and what it is to be unmarried in Kenyan culture. They learnt from me, and I learnt from them, we learnt from each other. An isolated story - but it needn’t have been, how often might we have learnt from each other if we had used, for example, link diocesan visits and exchanges to really learn what each others cultures are about and what it is to minister in them. Perhaps we need to repent of being too frightened, or just not caring enough, to talk about the difficult issues, the things we would disagree about.
You may have heard about a retired bishop in Uganda who has tried to begin the process of dialogue and pastoral support for gay Ugandan Christians. He faced tremendous opposition from his church. He was forbidden to preach and officiate, and even told at one point he would be refused a Christian burial. Perhaps we should have more visibly offered support and encouragement, after all he is doing what successive Lambeth conferences have been asking for. When he was suspended by the Ugandan church perhaps we should have been more overt and public in our support of him and our bishops might have intervened on his behalf. Calling one another to account is part of what the Archbishop was talking about in his pastoral letter when he spoke of living in the full interdependence of love.
The Bishop of Durham has spoken to us being in a desperate state of emergency, but that ignores the fact things are still happening, our communion is still functioning - things may not be as dire as he would have us believe. On the feast of Epiphany in the Diocese of Kajo Keji in the Sudan, there was a great occasion, an ordination of thirty-four deacons and three priests. Bishop Paul Marshall of ECUSA had been due to visit the diocese but in the light of the Windsor Report had offered to cancel his visit not wanting his presence to be a cause for embarrassment. But with the support of his Primate the Diocesan Bishop not only renewed his invitation, he rescheduled the ordinations so that Bishop Marshall could ordain the thirty-four deacons and with him the three priests. It also seems to me that we are too ready to hear the stories of broken relationships and not where the communion is strong.
And a story from me, I was born in New Zealand and ordained priest there twenty five years ago, and even longer ago than that I remember a debate in my diocesan synod on the subject of homosexuality. The synod resolved not to discriminate in employment on the grounds of sexual orientation. The debate was certainly about clergy and presumably that included bishops. The sky did not fall in, no African prelates imploded. It may have been because we were all concerned about something that seemed much more controversial - rugby. Should the Allblacks play the Springboks? We were engaged with supporting the Church in South Africa’s battle with apartheid. Throughout New Zealand society and the churches were deeply divided about the sporting boycott of South Africa. Rugby is what threatened to split the church not homosexuality. How have we come to this point today?
If the Anglican Communion falls apart in the next few months, might - just might - it not be because of something that happened in New Hampshire but because for twenty five years we have ignored the call of three Lambeth conferences to talk, to listen, to study, to learn.
The Church of Ireland had a press release Church of Ireland welcomes Primates to Dromantine.
The Belfast Telegraph published St Patrick’s to welcome church heads.
The Episcopal News Service which earlier had Anglican Primates: An Overview, and Presiding Bishop preaches at Belfast Cathedral has also published the report of Cedric Pulford from Ecumenical News International Anglican leaders meet to debate division on gay bishop consecration.
Jane Lampman wrote in the Christian Science Monitor that Mainline churches struggle over gay policy.
A related story from Canada is Anglican position on same-sex marriage has not changed, Primate says which refers specifically to the internal position of the Anglican Church of Canada.
Updated Monday afternoon
Monday’s editorial in The Times (extract reprinted below the fold) is headed
Faith and hope
The Anglican Church needs to be firm but not inflexible on homosexuality
Ruth Gledhill provides a related news report in Anglican world leaders face walk-out at summit on gays
The Telegraph has several stories by Jonathan Petre:
Separate Communions for primates in gay clergy row
Archbishop is facing lost cause as he tries to prevent split in world Church
Liberals want to interpret the Bible their way
BBC Northern Ireland has Anglican leaders meet in province
Toronto Globe and Mail has Anglicans grapple with rift over homosexuality
My own report for Anglicans Online can be read here:
The General Synod, the Windsor Report and the Primates Meeting
BBC Today Programme Real Audio segment: listen (4 minutes)
0744 The leaders of the world’s 38 Anglican churches begin a meeting today in Newry in which they’ll try to find a way of preventing a permanent split over homosexuality.
Belfast Telegraph Homosexuality top of the agenda at church conference
Extract from Times leader:
…If action is not forthcoming, an undisguisable schism is all but inevitable. This would be a regrettable outcome. It is one that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has sought to avoid. Having burnt his fingers through his own part in the abandoned scheme to install Jeffrey John as the suffragan Bishop of Reading, Dr Williams has since sought to put the unity of the Church ahead of pursuing radical and contentious initiatives.
He will, therefore, whatever his private instincts, attempt to convince the American Church and the Anglican Church of Canada (which has endorsed same-sex blessings) to step back from these practices pending further debate. The primates from these provinces would be wise to heed him. This is an argument not just about human sexuality but where authority lies in the Anglican community. Even those most sympathetic to the decision to appoint Bishop Robinson are aware that this was a unilateral decision, taken in calculated defiance of the established procedures for governing the Church. If this action were to be ignored, there would be little to stop other Anglican bodies engaging in their own, wildly different, interpretations of Scripture. Anglicanism would then be not so much a broad church as one with little shared basis.
It should not be necessary to suspend the North American Church, but that may be the only way to avert a much deeper schism. A “cooling-off period” would be welcome, before any final and potentially explosive move to expel these provinces. American Episcopalians are themselves split on this matter. If the issue is forced, the majority, feeling pressure from the laity, could return to the fold.
To assert this is not to endorse an unduly dogmatic line on homosexuality. There is more than one side to the discussion over how best to read the Bible on this question. What is obvious, nonetheless, is that the North American Church has rashly raised the stakes here, rather than proceeding with the measured caution that has ultimately allowed the Church to welcome women priests without a catastrophic split. This controversy will doubtless be revisited again and again. But unless the primates can agree on a way forward this week, there will not be a truly international Anglican Communion within which to conduct the debate.
First on the Sunday programme:
Meeting of the Anglican Primates
The meeting of the 38 provincial Primates of the Anglican Communion begins in Newry on Monday. It is a showdown between the majority, who are opposed to the ordination of actively gay bishops and clergy, and ECUSA, the Episcopal Church of the United States, and its supporters in Canada, who actively support and carry out such ordinations. Such is the impasse that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams asked the Communion’s chief fixer, Archbishop Robin Eames, to chair a commission to try and resolve the issue, which threatens to tear the Communion apart. It is that commission’s so called Windsor Report that is being discussed in Newry.
Listen (7m 04s)with Real Audio to interviews with Frank Griswold and Gregory Venables.
Lots of other items in today’s issue of Sunday are also of interest to Anglicans.
A piece from the Management pages of the Business section of the Observer by Simon Caulkin:
When the devil is in the details
How would you appraise a vicar’s performance? By the number, length and quality of sermons? Attendance at church? Out of wedlock births? Ratio of marriages to divorce? Doctrinal purity?
This intriguing question was raised by proposals put forward last week by the Church of England’s General Synod to make incompetent vicars easier to sack, and to subject them to the kind of performance measures that apply to other workers.
Don’t laugh: even our box may be less satirical than you think. In one study, a Norwegian hospital chaplain had performance measures that counted not only bedside visits, but also the number of last rites he performed. In fact, the church’s measurement problem illustrates with blinding clarity the tensions inherent in all performance management.
Read it all. But don’t take it too literally. The sidebar or “box” mentioned above is at the foot of the webpage. More about the real CofE proposals for ministerial review in a while.
The Sunday Times has a report by Christopher Morgan that says: Churchgoers ordered to pray for Camilla.
This refers to the wording of the BCP prayer for the Royal Family, which can be (and periodically is) altered by Royal Warrant (not by Parliament or the General Synod) to reflect births, marriages and deaths. According to Morgan the new wording will be:
“Almighty God, the fountain of all goodness, we humbly beseech thee to bless Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Charles, Prince of Wales, and the Duchess of Cornwall.”
The original version of this is rather longer and can be read here. I recommend this longer version to understand more accurately what Kendall thinks about this. I noted particularly his last paragraph as originally written:
“There are… limits to diversity,” says the Windsor Report, and the Anglican Communion has reached them in the current crisis. “These limits are defined by truth and charity” (TWR 86) which together with courageous leadership can enable the honest facing of the depth of the problem with the awesome sacrifice needed by all to enable a solution. The future of the third largest Christian family in the world is at stake.
Theo Hobson has had two major articles published this week. Theo is author of Against Establishment: an Anglican polemic and Anarchy, Church and Utopia: Rowan Williams on Church (published next month); both published by Darton Longman and Todd.
The Times article included this:
[The Church of England] …desperately needs to interest people in its version of Christianity; but establishment is a major turn-off. Before 2002, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, would have agreed with this analysis. Being Welsh, he had never had to pledge allegiance to the Queen, and he looked upon the establishment of the Church of England with scepticism. In 2000 he said: “I think that the notion of the monarch as supreme governor has outlived its usefulness. I believe increasingly that the Church has to earn the right to be heard by the social world. Establishment is just one of those things that make it slightly harder.”In 2002, when he began to be talked about as a contender for Canterbury, these remarks were dug up, and he hastily issued a press release in an attempt to re-bury them. “This is a matter which is quite clearly not at the top of the agenda for the Church of England,” he assured us. It is a shame that Dr Williams has not been more open about his doubts. For they are longstanding, and central to his theology. As long ago as 1998 he gave warning against any idea of “the Church’s guardianship of the Christian character of a nation . . . which so easily becomes the Church’s endorsement of the de facto structures and constraints of the life of a sovereign state.”
Upon his appointment to Canterbury, he shoved his disestablishing sympathies into the closet. Surely he should reach out to those with similar feelings — young, confused Anglicans especially — and tell them it’s OK. It’s OK to feel slightly nauseated by grand occasions of state, to feel that royalist pageantry stifles the spirit of Jesus Christ; and the occasional republican fantasy is nothing to be ashamed of.
Instead, he seems to have taken fright at the weakness of the Church. Maybe one cannot afford to be too honest, when Christian values are so precarious in this culture. Maybe an honest discussion of establishment would make the institution look muddled, weak and inward-looking. Better to look tough and united. Better to keep one’s core constituency on board, and make pleasant noises about the rich national legacy of the Christian monarchy. If in doubt, play the holy heritage card — it will always please the millions of lukewarm, middle-class Anglicans.
And there is another reason to keep deferring the disestablishment debate. The argument about homosexual ordination has shown the Church to be a very shaky marriage between the poles of liberal Catholics and conservative Evangelicals. This frail coalition might collapse without establishment. So it is a genuinely dangerous topic in the present climate.
Christopher Howse in the Telegraph writes about women’s ordination under the title Dressing up in clerical clothes.
Three more answers, this group relating to discrimination on grounds of gender.
Q5 The Revd Canon Penny Driver (Ripon & Leeds) to ask the Secretary General:
In the House of Bishops’ paper HB(05)M1 (“Summary of Decisions”), item no.14 refers to the House giving its approval in principle to a way of amending the law to address a legal difficulty which would otherwise arise when a new EU directive comes into force in October. Please could we know what this amendment is, how it will be done and why?
Answer by the Secretary General [William Fittall]
In the next few weeks the Department for Trade and Industry will be publishing draft regulations to bring UK law into line with the amended Equal Treatment Directive adopted by the EC in 2002. One amendment to Westminster legislation would involve a consequential amendment to the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993 in relation to the law on discrimination. As a result the DTI has, under the normal constitutional convention, consulted the Church. The House of Bishops and Archbishops’ Council have both given their approval to the Government’s proposed approach, which will enable the Church to maintain its present arrangements in a way consistent with European law.
I shall circulate a more detailed explanation to Synod members once the Government’s consultation document has been published.
Q56 Mrs Christina Rees (St Albans) to ask the Chairman of the Legal Advisory Commission:
Has the Legal Advisory Commission considered the application of the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure 1967 to those ordained by male bishops who were themselves ordained to the priesthood by female bishops and if not, would it do so now?
Answer by Professor David McClean as Chairman of the Legal Advisory Commission
As I reported to the Synod in answer to Questions last July, the Commission has considered the effect in England of acts of women bishops of other provinces of the Anglican Communion. Its Opinion is available on the Church of England website. [and more accessible here]
Provided that the various acts of ordination and consecration in Mrs Rees’s question all took place in Provinces of the Anglican Communion outside the British Isles, the case she describes is a variant of those in paragraph 29 of the Opinion. It comes within the principle set out in the Opinion, that the validity of ordinations is a matter of the canon law of the Province in which they take place. Assuming the ordinations are valid on that basis, those ordained in the circumstances Mrs Rees describes could apply for permission under the 1967 Measure. Whether permission is granted is a matter for the Archbishop’s discretion.
Q57 Mr David Warner (St Albans) to ask the Chairman of the Legal Advisory Commission:
Has the Legal Advisory Commission considered whether, when and if women are consecrated bishops in Ireland, Scotland and Wales, they and those ordained by them will be free to exercise their ministries in the Church of England without requiring permission from the relevant archbishop under the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure 1967?
Answer by Professor David McClean as Chairman of the Legal Advisory Commission
Yes, it has, in the Opinion I have mentioned in my reply to Mrs Rees. Bishops of other Anglican Provinces in the British Isles are not “overseas bishops” for the purposes of the 1967 Measure, and it therefore does not apply to them or those ordained by them.
The Opinion explains that it would be misconduct for a woman bishop from any of these provinces to exercise episcopal functions in England without the diocesan bishop’s authority. The general principles expounded in the Opinion suggest that the diocesan bishop could not lawfully give such authority.
A person ordained by a[n] Anglican bishop in Scotland or Ireland could be invited to officiate in England under the Episcopal Church (Scotland) Act 1964 or the Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure 1995. The legal position is less clear-cut in the case of Wales, but in principle the answer would be the same.
Report of related July 2004 question is here.
The BBC Parliament channel will be rebroadcasting its coverage of the General Synod debate held last Thursday morning about the Windsor Report.
The retransmission starts at 3.00 p.m. GMT on Sunday, and lasts 195 minutes. Details here.
to include business done on Thursday afternoon.
Press reports of Thursday morning’s debate:
BBC Synod backs regret at gay bishop
Press Association Homosexuality Row Leaves Church in ‘Agony’ - Archbishop
Associated Press Archbishop sees ‘no cost-free outcome’ to split over gay bishop
Reuters Anglican Church Deeply Wounded in Gay Row -Williams
Evening Standard Church acts to end split over gay clergy
Agence France-Presse Gay clergy row has damaged Anglican church, archbishop admits
The Times Ruth Gledhill Williams tells liberals they risk damaging the Church
Telegraph Jonathan Petre Archbishop pledges to take tough action in Church gay row
Yorkshire Post Michael Brown Archbishop’s agony as the threat of schism over gay row haunts Synod
The official report of business done on Thursday morning is here as an RTF file and the section relating to the Windsor Report is copied here below the fold. Details of the amendments proposed (none of which were approved) appear below that. They are taken from the Order Paper for the morning’s business here as an RTF file.
Telegraph Jonathan Petre Let us bless this recycling bin
Ekklesia Synod sings ‘halle-loo-jah’
Press Association Bishop Flushed with Success over Water Saving Scheme
The synod debated the motion concerning Senior Church Appointments
700 The motion (as amended by Items 710 and 711)
‘That this Synod:
(i) consider that the Church should adopt an integrated and consistent method for the making of appointments to senior ecclesiastical office (other than diocesan bishops) to ensure that all appointments are transparent and encourage the confidence of the Church in the procedures that support the final selection; and
(ii) request the Archbishops’ Council to commission a working party (to be chaired by a person independent of the Council and the Synod) to review and make recommendations (without limitation) as to the law and practice regarding appointments to the offices of suffragan bishop, dean, archdeacon and residentiary canon, including:
(A) the role and practice adopted by diocesan bishops in the making of nominations to suffragan sees; and
(B) the role of the Crown in the making of appointments to the other senior Church offices referred to above and how it is discharged, and for the Archbishops’ Council to report back to the Synod within eighteen months of the date of this debate.’
The synod then debated SHARING GOD’S PLANET: Report by the Mission and Public Affairs Council (PDF format)
The motion originally proposed was amended in various ways, and the final result was that:
The motion (as amended by Items 38, 39, 46 and 48)
‘That this Synod
(a) commend Sharing God’s Planet as a contribution to Christian thinking and action on environmental issues;
(b) challenge itself and all members of the Church of England to make care for creation, and repentance for its exploitation, fundamental to their faith, practice, and mission;
© lead by example by promoting study on the scale and nature of lifestyle change necessary to achieve sustainability, and initiatives encouraging immediate action towards attaining it;
(d) encourage parishes, diocesan and national Church organizations to carry out environmental audits and adopt specific and targeted measures to reduce consumption of non-renewable resources and ask the Mission and Public Affairs Council to report on outcomes achieved to the July 2008 group of sessions;
(e) welcome Her Majesty’s Government’s prioritising of climate change in its chairing of the G8 and its forthcoming presidency of the European Union;
(f) urge Her Majesty’s Government to provide sustained and adequate funding for research into, and development of, environmentally friendly sources of energy; and
(g) in order to promote responsible use of God’s created resources and to reduce and stabilise global warming, commend to
(i) the consumers of material and energy, the approach of ‘contraction and convergence’; and to
(ii) the producers of material and energy systems, safe, secure and sustainable products and processes based on near-zero-carbon-emitting sources.’
THE WINDSOR REPORT: Report by the House of Bishops (GS 1570)
The Synod welcomed the Archbishop of Cape Town (the Most Reverend Njongonkulu Ndungane) who was sitting in the public gallery.
14 The motion
‘That this Synod
(a) welcome the report from the House (GS 1570) accepting the principles set out in the Windsor Report;
(b) urge the Primates of the Anglican Communion to take action, in the light of the Windsor Report’s recommendations, to secure unity within the constraints of truth and charity and to seek reconciliation with the Communion; and
(c) assure the Archbishop of Canterbury of its prayerful support at the forthcoming Primates’ Meeting.’
30 The amendment (Item 30 Order Paper VI) was lost.
31 The amendment (Item 31 Order Paper VI) was lost.
32 The amendment (Item 32 Order Paper VI) was lost.
33 The amendment (Item 33 Order Paper VI) was lost.
34 The amendment (Item 34 Order Paper VI) fell.
35 The amendment (Item 35 Order Paper VI) was lost.
36 The amendment (Item 36 Order Paper VI) was lost after a count of the whole Synod. The voting was as follows:
37 The amendment (Item 37 Order Paper VI) was not moved.
14 The motion (unamended)
‘That this Synod
(a) welcome the report from the House (GS 1570) accepting the principles set out in the Windsor Report;
(b) urge the Primates of the Anglican Communion to take action, in the light of the Windsor Report’s recommendations, to secure unity within the constraints of truth and charity and to seek reconciliation with the Communion; and
(c) assure the Archbishop of Canterbury of its prayerful support at the forthcoming Primates’ Meeting.’
Text of the various amendments
Mr Tom Sutcliffe (Southwark) to move as an amendment:
30. ‘Leave out paragraph (a) and insert:
“(a) thank the members of the Lambeth Commission for their work on the Windsor Report, but regret that their Mandate did not include consideration of ECUSA’s more democratic model of “the bishop in synod” as the expression of ecclesiastical authority;”.’
Mr Tom Sutcliffe (Southwark) to move as an amendment:
31. ‘Leave out paragraph (b) and insert:
“(b) urge the Primates of the Anglican Communion to seek reconciliation within the Communion, and to acknowledge that the character of Anglicanism as an unintended imperial relic akin to the British Commonwealth should be influenced by local circumstances, which may be very different from those applying in the context of the historic Establishment of the Church of England;”.’
Whether or not item 31 is carried, the Revd Andrew Watson (London) to move as an amendment:
32. ‘In paragraph (b) after the words “to seek reconciliation” insert the words “and radical holiness”.’
Whether or not either item 31 is carried, if item 32 is not carried the Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe to move as an amendment:
33. ‘In paragraph (b) after the words “within the Communion” insert the words “and with other churches”.’
Whether or not either item 31 is carried, if item 32 is carried the Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe to move as an amendment:
34. ‘In paragraph (b) after the words “within the Communion” insert the words “and reconciliation with other churches”.’
Mr Tom Sutcliffe (Southwark) to move as an amendment:
35. ‘After paragraph (b) insert as a new paragraph:
“ (c) celebrate Anglicanism’s traditional emphasis on provincial and congregational responsibility, its rejection of pretensions to universality, and its commitment to theological inclusiveness and human reason; and”.
and re-letter the remaining paragraph accordingly’
The Revd Paul Collier (Southwark) to move as an amendment:
36. ‘After paragraph (b) (or (c) as the case may be) insert as a new paragraph
“ (c) (or (d)) in the light of paragraph 3.7.2 of the FOAG response to the Windsor report annexed to GS 1570, which refers to the requirement of Lambeth 1.10 that Anglicans should listen to the experiences of gay and lesbian people, urge the Primates to take practical steps to create a climate of safety within the Churches of the Communion in which lesbian and gay people can speak of their experience and theology without fear of reprisal within those Churches and that will allow voices to be heard across national and provincial boundaries in the Communion, especially in countries where homosexuality is punishable by imprisonment;”
and re-letter the remaining paragraph accordingly.’
Mr Tom Sutcliffe (Southwark) to move as an amendment:
37. ‘At the end of paragraph (c) (or (d) or (e)) as the case may be) insert the words “but recommend him not to proceed with endorsement of the Windsor Report’s proposed Covenant”.’
BBC Radio reports from the Today programme this morning, before the debates. Listen with Real Audio.
Robert Pigott reports. The General Synod, the Church of England’s Parliament, is debating women bishops again today. Listen 2 minutes
Campaigners in favour of women bishops are protesting at the Synod building of the Church of England. Jane Little is there. Listen 4 minutes
Archbishop’s speeches in the debates
Speech in Take Note debate on the theology of Women in the Episcopate
Reports after the debates:
Press Association Synod has Lively Debate on Issue of Women Bishops
BBC First step towards woman bishops which has links to two video clips, a report by Robert Pigott and an interview with Vivienne Faull.
Reuters Church moves towards women bishops
Telegraph ‘A thousand parishes’ oppose women bishops
Associated Press (via Beliefnet) Church of England to Consider Allowing Women Bishops
The Times Ruth Gledhill Synod paves the way towards first women bishops by 2010
Guardian Stephen Bates Welcomes and warnings in women bishops debate
Telegraph Jonathan Petre Synod overcomes dissent to pave way for women bishops
and editorial comment: A broad Church has room for women bishops
Independent Synod closer to women bishops after bitter debate
Yorkshire Post Michael Brown Women a step closer to being bishops after Synod debate
A number of questions were asked about matters relating to the Civil Partnership Act 2004 and other Employment Equality legislation. The full text of these Questions and Answers is below the fold.
Only the first of these questions was answered in tonight’s session, and no supplementary question was put. The other answers are available only in written form.
News reports specifically about this matter:
Yorkshire Post Bishop signals church pensions for gay clergy’s partners
Telegraph Gay priests’ lovers to get pensions
Q 27 The Revd Paul Collier (Southwark) to ask the Chairman of the Ministry Division:
Will the Church of England follow the example of the Scottish Episcopal Church and commit itself to giving pension rights to registered same-sex partners of clergy equal to those enjoyed by clergy spouses when the new law comes into effect in November of this year?
Answer by the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds (Chairman of the Deployment, Remuneration and Conditions of Service Committee)
The Civil Partnerships Act 2004 imposes obligations on all pensions schemes to provide a certain level of benefits to Registered Civil Partners of scheme members. The Church of England’s pensions schemes are affected by this legislation in the same way as any other scheme. The Government has still to make detailed regulations under the new Act, and we shall not be able to provide a comprehensive statement on the implications of the new legislation until we have had the opportunity to study those and work through the implications.
Q68 The Revd Stephen Coles (London) to ask the Chairman of the Archbishops’ Council:
Given that the Church of England seems gradually to be bringing the position of the clergy into closer line with that of other comparable professions and secular legislation in general, how are we to justify continuing to demand different procedures when there are issues regarding termination of office and discrimination on the grounds of sexuality?
Answer by the Bishop of Chelmsford on behalf of the Archbishops’ Council:
Acceptance of many of the features of secular legislation does not mean that the Church should cease to have its own arrangements for clergy discipline. Indeed this Synod and Parliament have only recently approved the new system of clergy discipline which is to come into operation at the end of this year. All that the Church has sought in relation to the sexual conduct of its clergy is that it should, like other denominations and faiths, remain free to debate and set its own requirements rather than have them externally imposed by the secular authorities.
Q70 The Revd Paul Collier (Southwark) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
In order to enable the Church to listen to the experience of lesbian and gay clergy and church members, will the House of Bishops make a declaration that no-one will face reprisals for speaking honestly about their experience?
Answer by the Bishop of Chelmsford as Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee for Ministry
Introducing the language of ‘reprisals’ into this sensitive area is not helpful. Let us instead be agreed that it behoves all with pastoral responsibilities in the Church to enable its members to ‘speak the truth in love’ [Ephesians 4:15]. All the Churches of the Anglican Communion are bound to take seriously the 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 (c) which specifically called for such listening in respect of homosexual persons.
Let us also be agreed, as the draft Ordinal reminds us, that clergy of the Church of England are expected to ‘fashion their lives according to the way of Christ’ and to ‘accept the discipline of the Church’ [p.29 of GS 1535A].
Q78 The Revd Stephen Coles (London) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
If a member of the clergy decides to contract a civil partnership with a member of the same gender once this becomes possible in the foreseeable future, how will this affect their office within the Church of England?
Q79 The Revd Anthony Braddick-Southgate (Southwark) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
What advice has the House received regarding how the registration of civil partnerships will compel the Church of England to recognize same-sex relationships for the purposes of employment practices and occasional offices such as funerals?
Q80 The Revd Anthony Braddick-Southgate (Southwark) to ask the Chairman of the House of Bishops:
Has the House of Bishops come to a mind or given any guidance on whether clergy who register a civil partnership will be subject to any disciplinary proceedings?
Answer by the Bishop of Norwich as Chairman of the House’s Civil Partnerships Sub-Group
With permission, I should like to answer the question from Mr Coles and the two questions from Mr Braddick-Southgate together.
The group which I chair is considering the issues raised in these questions. We shared our initial thinking with the House in January and are aiming to complete our report for its meeting in May. The intention is to issue a Pastoral Statement for the guidance of clergy and others well before the first civil partnerships become possible when the Civil Partnerships Act comes into force at the end of this year or early next.
If this is all too much for you, then turn with relief to this Lent Face to Faith column by Judith Maltby: Summon all the dust to rise.
Reports of this afternoon:
Press Association Call to End Church ‘Jobs for Life’ Welcomed
Guardian Stephen Bates Synod votes to remove vicars’ freehold rights at churches
The Times Ruth Gledhill Anglican clergy to lose the right to a job for life
Yorkshire Post Michael Brown Here endeth your job for life, the nation’s vicars told
Financial Times Synod backs curbs on right to housing
Telegraph Jonathan Petre Synod backs move to end clergy ‘jobs for life’
Telegraph editorial against this decision House of prayer to let
The official report of business concerning the motion and vote on the Clergy Terms of Service report can be found in this RTF document and the key paragraphs are reproduced below the fold here.
8 The motion (as amended by Item 26)
‘That this Synod
(a) welcome in general terms the recommendations summarized on pages 1 to 7 of the Report (GS 1564) but with grave reservations about recommendations v, ix, xxiii f and xxiii g;
(b) commend the report to the dioceses and the wider Church and ask dioceses and other interested parties to submit comments by the end of July 2005 to the implementation group referred to in © below; and
© request the Archbishops’ Council to appoint an implementation group to follow up the recommendations in the report (taking account of the responses from dioceses and other interested parties both to this report and to the earlier report (GS 1527) on the first phase of the work) and to bring forward legislation based on those recommendations as early as possible in the next quinquennium.’
was carried after a division by Houses. The voting was as follows:
HOUSE AYES NOES
Bishops 37 0
Clergy 150 39
Laity 154 53
entry revised Tuesday evening
The General Synod February sessions began on Monday evening.
The Church Times reports are now in the subscription-only part of that website.
Official record of business on day one are posted as an RTF file here. To understand that summary you also need to read Order Paper I which contains the wording of the amendment. The relevant texts are reproduced below the fold.
Press coverage of this evening’s synod session:
Press Association 6.40 pm Church of England Rejects Call for Royal Wedding Debate
BBC ‘No church debate’ over wedding
Sky News Church Rejects Debate On Charles’ Wedding
Guardian Stephen Bates Synod is refused a royal debate
Telegraph Jonathan Petre Synod rejects royal engagement debate
Yorkshire Post Archbishop leads prayers for couple - Synod will not debate Royal marriage issue
Associated Press Royal Wedding Highlights Divorceee Roles
Press coverage of the earlier House of Laity meeting:
The Times Ruth Gledhill Church aims to put clergy in the dock with modern heresy trials
Telegraph Jonathan Petre Clergy who deny doctrine may face trial for heresy
Earlier press coverage today:
Reuters Anglicans debate women bishops
Press Association Women Bishops on Synod Agenda
BBC A suitable job for a woman
Telegraph General Synod refuses to discuss royal wedding
The Times Royal wedding plans spark Church row
Guardian Tough talks on synod agenda
Earlier BBC reports were linked from here.
SPECIAL AGENDA IV DIOCESAN SYNOD MOTION
CANON B 44 (GS Misc 764A and B)
The Revd Canon Alan Hargrave to move on behalf of the Ely Diocesan Synod:
806. ‘That this Synod request that legislation be introduced to rescind paragraph 5 of Canon B 44 Of local ecumenical projects.’
The Ven Robert Reiss (Archdeacon of Surrey) to move as an amendment:
811. ‘Leave out the word “rescind” and insert the words “delete from” and at the end insert the words “all words from “and in particular” to the end”.’
Note: Paragraph 5 of Canon B44 reads as follows:
‘Before exercising his powers under paragraph 4 above in relation to any local ecumenical project the bishop shall consult the authorities of the other participating Churches, and he shall so exercise those powers as to ensure that public worship according to the rites of the Church of England is maintained with reasonable frequency in a parish which is in, or part of which is in, the area of the project and in particular that a service of Holy Communion according to the rites of the Church of England and presided over by a priest of the Church of England or by an episcopally ordained priest in a Church whose Orders are recognised and accepted by the Church of England shall be celebrated at least on Christmas Day, Ash Wednesday, Easter Day, Ascension Day and Pentecost.’
EXTRACT FROM THE REPORT OF BUSINESS DONE:
CANON B 44 (GS Misc. 763A, GS Misc. 763B)
806 The motion ‘That this Synod request that legislation be introduced to rescind paragraph 5 of Canon B 44 Of local ecumenical projects.’ was moved.
811 The amendment (Item 811 Order Paper I) was carried.
806 The motion (as amended by Item 811)
‘That this Synod request that legislation be introduced to delete from paragraph 5 of Canon B 44 Of local ecumenical projects all the words from “and in particular” to the end.’ was carried after a division by Houses. The voting was as follows:
HOUSE AYES NOES
Bishops 14 13
Clergy 90 72
Laity 109 80
InclusiveChurch has issued this press release:
Inclusive Church calls for a safe space in which gay Christians can speak
The Windsor Report has repeated the call for the Anglican Church to listen to the experience of gay men and women made at the last three Lambeth Conferences. If the church is to take this call seriously, it must create a safe environment in which people can talk. In particular, this means that clergy must be able to speak out without fear of losing their job or having other sanctions placed on them. InclusiveChurch calls for a clear and unequivocal moratorium on the disciplining of lesbian and gay clergy who wish to speak honestly about their sexuality.
The Rev’d Dr Giles Fraser, one of the founders of the movement said, ‘For nearly thirty years, the Lambeth Conference has called for the church to listen to gay and lesbian people. Yet, in many parts of the communion, this process has not begun. In many places those who speak out are attacked and persecuted. The church must make practical moves to enable gay and lesbian people to share their experience of Christ in their lives. Without making a safe space for this to happen, the promises made at Lambeth Conferences, and more recently by the Windsor Report itself, will be seen as hollow.”
Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude, part of the InclusiveChurch network, said: ‘The listening process has begun to happen in the majority of English dioceses. There are now many examples of good practice that other dioceses could learn from. It must be a process that the whole Anglican church engages in, not only in the UK but across the Communion. That means creating the right conditions for listening and putting the necessary resources in place. This is the challenge that the Windsor Report poses to the church.’
The InclusiveChurch website has also published two articles relating to Some Issues in Human Sexuality published last year:
Earlier articles can be found listed here.
The questions to be asked at General Synod on Tuesday are online as an RTF file here.
An html copy is accessible here.
The General Synod of the Church of England is split over the marriage of Charles and Camilla.
And also, from earlier in the morning, this 4 minute discussion with Robert Piggott, covering the whole synod agenda.
First, Alex Kirby has published a review of the General Synod meeting next week, titled Anglicans fret over divisive issues.
Second, Jane Little has written about The Church, Charles and Camilla.
Third, the Sunday radio programme had three items relevant to all this. Real Audio required.
Charles & Camilla Listen (6m 57s)
We begin with the story that has dominated the secular press this week and seems likely to dominate next week’s Church of England Synod in London next week too; the news that the man destined to be the Church’s Supreme Govenor is to marry a divorcee - the deed of course being done in a civil ceremony and not before the altar. The Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, as she will then be known, will have their union blessed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. But the conservative evangelical group the Church Society is far from happy - the group’s general Secretary David Philips is on the line. The Right Reverend Anthony Priddis, the Bishop of Hereford, chairs the church of England’s committee on such matters - FLAME, which stands for Family Life and Marriage Education.
Cathedral Deans Disco Listen (6m 58s)
There is a proposal before the General Synod of the Church of England this week which would have taken a lot of the fun out of Anthony Trollope’s account of office politics in the Cathedral Close at Barchester but is, in the view of the man behind it, necessary if the Church is to meet the challenges of the modern world. Anthony Archer - who is involved in high level appointments both in his professional life and within the church bureaucracy - says the way senior jobs are awarded in the Church is “shrouded in secrecy” and needs to be changed. Anthony Archer joins us as does Colin Slee the dean of Southwark Cathedral.
Gay Blessings Listen (7m 3s)
Another of the big debates at the General Synod next week will concern the Windsor Report - the Anglican Communion’s study into how to preserve church unity in the face of the divisions over homosexuality - the BBC’s Parliament Channel will be broadcasting the debate live from nine o’clock on Thursday morning.. One of the main triggers which brought those divisions to a head was the decision of a Canadian diocese to authorise a service of Blessing for same sex unions. Such services are forbidden in the Church of England at the moment - and gay clergy aren’t allowed to be homosexually active. But both of those rules are often flouted in reality, and when the Civil Partnership Act comes into force later this year the questions about the Church’s position in this area will become even more pressing. - Christopher Landau reports.
These debates will occur on Wednesday, following a service of Holy Communion at which Rowan Williams will preside and preach. The starting time of the debate will therefore be around 10.15 a.m.
Glyn Paflin reported on this in the Church Times last week:
About two and three-quarter hours have been set aside on the Wednesday morning for a take-note motion on the Rochester report.
The motion will be moved by the Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, who chaired the House of Bishops’ working party on women in the episcopate, which produced the report that bears his name, Women Bishops in the Church of England?
In the afternoon, at 2.30, the Synod has until 3.45 to debate a motion in the name of the Archbishop of Canterbury, which says: “That the Synod welcome the report from the House of Bishops (GS 1568) and invite the business committee to make sufficient time available at the July group of sessions for Synod to determine whether it wishes to set in train the process for removing the legal obstacles to the ordination of women to the episcopate.”
The paper issued to synod members explaining how the debates will be structured is GS 1568 published only as an RTF file, but reproduced here below the fold.
The basic document under consideration is GS 1557, the Rochester report Women Bishops in the Church of England? This can be downloaded as an 800K PDF file here, or as three separate smaller ones from here.
Annex 1 of this report details the varied status of women’s ordination across all 38 provinces of the commmunion (and beyond, in other churches with whom we are in communion). An html copy of part of this annex (including the footnotes which are essential for deciphering it) is accessible here.
An earlier brief note on the Rochester report can be found here.
WOMEN IN THE EPISCOPATE: A REPORT FROM THE HOUSE OF BISHOPS
1. Women Bishops in the Church of England? was published on 2 November on the authority of the House of Bishops and commended to dioceses for study. The House also authorised the sending of the report to our sister churches in the Anglican Communion and to other Churches for their views.
2. The report results from the General Synod motion of July 2000 which asked the House ‘to initiate further theological study on the episcopate, focusing on the issues that need to be addressed in preparation for the debate on women in the episcopate…’. The House is grateful to the Bishop of Rochester and his colleagues for the great care with which they have prepared it.
3. The House has proposed, and the Business Committee has agreed, that time should be made available at the February Synod for a major debate of the report, on a take note motion moved by the Bishop of Rochester. This will be an important contribution to the period of study and reflection which the House believes to be essential in preparation for decisions which are bound to have a major impact on the future life and ministry of our Church. Companion study material is being made available and the House hopes that dioceses, deaneries and parishes will find this helpful as they ponder the issues raised by the report.
4. After the take note debate on the report from the Bishop of Rochester’s Group, I intend to move a motion, which will give the Synod the opportunity to debate this short report from the House setting out our thinking on what the process should be from here.
5. Having considered the matter carefully, the House has concluded that to attempt to reach substantive decisions in February, only three months after the publication of such a substantial report, would be premature. Equally, it acknowledges, as the five Diocesan Synod Motions indicate, that there is a wish in many quarters to test the mind of the Synod at an early opportunity on whether the Church of England should embark on the legislative process necessary for the admission of women to the episcopate. The House is agreed that such an opportunity should be provided in July.
6. If the vote then were to move towards legislation, it would fall to the next Synod to consider the legislation itself. Consideration might also be needed for codes of practice. Decisions as between the various options would, therefore, best be taken early in the life of the new Synod in the light of a considered assessment by the House of what, in practice, the consequences of each of them would be.
7. Against that background the House thought that it would be helpful to set out now for the Synod in some detail, the process which we propose to help the Church to discern the will of God in this matter. First, the House at its January meeting had an opportunity for a substantial discussion of matters of principle and began to consider the implications of the options set out in the Report. Further discussion, taking account of the February Synod debate, will be needed when the House meets again in May. It is important that the House itself have time to explore carefully the issues both of principle and implementation before decisions are taken.
8. A member of the House will then move a substantive motion for debate at the July Synod. The text of the motion will be settled nearer the time, but the intention of the House is that it should test the mind of Synod on whether it wants to set in train the process for removing the legal obstacles to the ordination of women to the episcopate.
9. If Synod were to vote in favour, the House would also want Synod to have the opportunity in July to determine what the next steps should be. Given the imminent end of the quinquennium, a possible option would be to invite the House of Bishops, in consultation with the Archbishops’ Council, to report to the Synod by January 2006, the assessment which it is making of the various options relating to the admission of women to the episcopate.
10. This would pave the way for a debate, perhaps in the February 2006 group of sessions when the Synod would be able to reach its own view as between the options and thus determine the basis on which it wanted the necessary legislation prepared. This would also be the moment to establish the necessary drafting group. The legislation would be prepared to reflect the decisions already taken by Synod. There would, of course, be the usual opportunity for amendments to be moved during the subsequent synodical consideration of the draft Measure etc.
11. If the motion this July were to be carried and the necessary decisions taken in February 2006, the steps thereafter would be likely to be as follows (on the assumption that the legislation represented both Article 7 business and Article 8 business):
i) Drafting Group appointed. Oversees preparation of draft Measure and Canon for introduction to the Synod ;
ii) Draft Measure and Canon introduced, given First Consideration by Synod and referred to Revision Committee to consider proposals for amendment;
iii) Report from Revision Committee considered by Synod, followed by the Revision Stage;
iv) Reference of draft Measure and Canon, as amended, to diocesan synods under Article 8. The approval of a majority of the synods is required for the legislation to proceed further;
v) Report back to Synod from the Business Committee on the diocesan reference. Possible references to the Convocations and House of Laity under Article 7;
vi) Final approval by Synod. A two–thirds majority in each House is required at this point;
vii) Parliamentary scrutiny of Measure, including by the Ecclesiastical Committee;
viii) Royal Assent for Measure and Promulging of Canon by Synod.
12. Any timescale is necessarily speculative at this stage. A reference to diocesan synods requires around eighteen months and that means that the synodical process from establishing the drafting group through to Final Approval cannot realistically take less than about four years.
(On behalf of the House of Bishops)
Next Thursday, the General Synod of the Church of England will debate a motion relating to the Windsor Report. The event will be covered live by the BBC Parliament TV channel from 8.50 am GMT. See report confusingly headlined Gay bishops on BBC Parliament.
The exact wording of the motion to be debated is below. For further documentation relating to this debate, read this earlier report.
The motion to be moved by the Bishop of Durham and debated by Synod (starting at 9am on Thursday 17 February) is:
That this Synod
(a) welcome the report from the House (GS 1570) accepting the principles set out in the Windsor Report;
(b) urge the Primates of the Anglican Communion to take action, in the light of the Windsor Report’s recommendations, to secure unity within the constraints of truth and charity and to seek reconciliation within the Communion; and
(c) assure the Archbishop of Canterbury of its prayerful support at the forthcoming Primates’ Meeting.
My own analysis of this is below the fold.
It’s important to distinguish between the actual brief report of the HoB and the lengthy paper appended to it, both of which are contained within GS1570. Only the former text was agreed by the HoB (and they made some changes to the latter before agreeing to publish it).
It’s clear that the purpose of the HoB report was to give RW their unanimous backing (blank cheque?) for whatever he judges best, as he goes to chair the Primates Meeting the following week, and the objective of the GS motion is to persuade the GS as a whole to do the same.
There is no reference in the HoB text to any of the specific recommendations of the WR itself, and only the briefest reference to the attached paper.
The only parts of WR which are mentioned at all in the HoB text are these three sections:
The wording of para 3b in their report is extremely cautious, vague even, referring only to “all steps necessary to seek to achieve reconciliation… in the light of the recommendations of the Windsor Report”.
Although there is a request in para 3c for one specific action, it is only for the provision of a theological rationale. The absence of any other specifics at this point is quite striking.
There is support for the principle of drawing up of an Anglican Covenant, but no more than that is said about it.
The wording of the GS motion itself is also very cautious, and does not ostensibly commit those who vote for it to any specific recommendation of the WR.
So why is the debate going to be controversial and heated?
Because despite all that I have said above, any vote in favour of this motion will be interpreted - rightly or wrongly - by many people, on all sides of the issue, as a formal endorsement by the CofE of the complete set of Windsor Report recommendations. All attempts at nuance will be lost in the hubbub. There’s no easy way to make a distinction between supporting Rowan Williams and supporting the Windsor Report.
All this will happen the day after the synod has debated the principle of women bishops, surely a more fundamental ecclesiological issue than this one. And yet the Communion has, it seems, already agreed that it is not necessary for anyone to break communion over that.
In The Times today Geoffrey Rowell has a Lenten meditation based on a recent visit to Majorca and participating in a local pilgrimage there. Journey reveals signs of the new life of spring. He concludes:
When I was young I remember a teacher demonstrating the way in which disordered iron filings on a piece of paper arranged themselves in a pattern once a magnet was placed beneath them. In the same way, if we but open our lives to it, the magnetic love of God can order our disordered love, “setting our feet upon a rock and ordering our going”, as the psalmist put it. And what that love of God is we see and know in the Cross of Christ, the “very book of charity laid open before us”, and in his Easter victory. Lent is the springtime of the soul because it leads to Easter, and Easter leads to Pentecost and the love of God poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
It is this for which we were made. It is this for which the world is made — so its beauty points us to God, the source of all beauty. The transfiguring grace of the Holy Spirit enlightens our eyes so that the source of all our seeing is rinsed and cleansed to know the “dearest freshness deep down things”.
There is repentance needed here also, for the world is so often made ugly, disfigured and polluted and its resources wasted by our greed and destruction. Sin, although inescapably personal, has social and corporate dimensions and consequences. We need both to see and to choose aright in caring for the world which God made and which he saw was good. As John Keble put it in words we could use as a Lenten prayer:
Thou who hast given me eyes to see
And love this sight so fair,
Give me a heart to find out Thee
And read Thee everywhere.
And in so reading, to pray that we may be given that right judgment in all things — in the ordering of our love, the shaping of our lives, and our care for creation — which is the gift and grace of the life-giving Spirit of God.
In the Guardian Paul Oestreicher writes from Dresden about the anniversary of the RAF bombing: Spirit of the white rose.
To come to this city as it remembers the burning pyres of February 1945, on behalf of its twin city Coventry, is to come with mixed emotions. These are even more complex for me. As a child who fled Hitler, I remember my grandmother - a victim of the real Holocaust. In an address to the people of Dresden, representing Coventry cathedral, I shall remind people of Coventry’s provost who, six weeks after the blitz of 1940, preached a sermon in the ruins of his cathedral in which he rejected all thoughts of revenge. He declared that when the war was over he would work with those who had been enemies “to build a kinder, more Christ-like kind of world”. The people of Coventry at that time shook their heads. It didn’t fit in with a world in which popular opinion had it that the only good Hun was a dead Hun.
The policy of the Church of England on this matter is well documented but, as the items are not obvious on the CofE website, they are listed here. There is a link to them from the main CofE advice page on Weddings.
The general information page is Marriage in Church after Divorce.
This refers to several other documents. The two key ones are:
Marriage in church after divorce - Form and explanatory statement - A leaflet for enquiring couples but this is available only in PDF format - four of the six pages are the application form, but the one-page explanatory statement is reproduced here below the fold.
Marriage in church after divorce
The Church of England teaches that marriage is for life. It also recognizes that some marriages sadly do fail and, if this should happen, it seeks to be available for all involved. The Church accepts that, in exceptional circumstances, a divorced person may marry again in church during the lifetime of a former spouse.
If you are thinking about asking to be married in church, you should discuss this with your local parish priest. Please do this well before choosing a date for your wedding.
Some priests may be willing to take such a marriage, others may not be prepared to do so, on grounds of conscience, and may not allow the use of their church either. The law of the land permits them this choice.
If your parish priest is willing to discuss the possibility of conducting your marriage, he/she will want to talk to you frankly about the past, your hopes for the future and your understanding of marriage. You and your intended spouse should therefore be prepared to consider some questions. You are advised to reflect beforehand on the issues they raise – and should be prepared to answer them honestly.
If you wish to proceed with your enquiry, both of you should complete the attached application form and hand it to your parish priest. You will also need to bring with you written legal proof that any divorce decree is absolute. (A decree nisi will not be sufficient.)
It is likely that your priest may ask for more than one confidential interview with you and your intended spouse together. Your priest may also feel the need to consult with the bishop or his adviser, before making a decision, although the decision remains with the parish priest.
This process could easily take some time, and you should discuss how long it might take with your parish priest at your initial meeting. If it is not possible for your proposed marriage to take place in church, your priest may consider other alternatives with you. If your priest agrees to conduct a marriage service, you may be invited to take part, possibly with other couples, in marriage preparation.
The process this leaflet describes reflects the Church’s commitment both to lifelong marriage, and to taking seriously your wish to marry in church. You may be certain that your application will be received and considered with dignity, care and loving concern. Whether or not you proceed to marriage in church, your priest and your local church are available to offer you guidance and support as you proceed on life’s journey.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you.
The season of fasting is upon us. But outward show of fasting is forbidden, both by the prophets and by Jesus. The prophet says “rend your hearts and not your garments” and Jesus says “whenever you fast, do not look dismal.”
We are told “whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you.” The words have an uncomfortable ring in the light of the responses to the Tsunami. Certainly there has been enormous generosity. And, whilst millions of donors have been moved to give quietly, doing what Jesus said, many others were pushed in the right direction by seeing what others were doing, or because others asked them to give. First it was governments, and those league tables which appeared in our newspapers. Initially, only Australia appeared to appreciate the enormity of the devastation. Then, as news of the losses started to emerge, Sweden, finding a huge proportion of the victims were their own nationals, started to give massively. And Britain and all the rest, no doubt as travellers started to come home, began to promise aid on a more fitting scale. Governments, shamed by the unparalleled giving by individuals to charities, promised more.
From then we have had all sorts of initiatives to help people to give and keep giving in the forefront of our minds. There have been fund raising events, sponsored events, appeals by particular personalities and so on. Charitable giving is announced by trumpets. Television programmes, special records, and all the rest focus our giving.
But that always happens. We have “Wear your poppy with pride” for Remembrance Sunday. That’s what we used to do, but now people wear the same poppy, for which they have given no more, with far too much pride for about three weeks. We have red nose day, in which surely those who wear the noses have their reward, lots of fun for the day, having spent not a lot. The “non uniform” days for school children encourage the same kind of mentality. It says “We will give, so long as we get something out of our giving.”
Beyond this, people’s giving to the rich is far greater than our giving to the poor. Sponsorship of the arts, one’s old school or university, is a wonderful way of blowing one’s own trumpet. The lottery, in Britain, has benefited the rich far more than it has helped the poor.
We ought to be able to say that we shouldn’t need fund raising events. We shouldn’t need people to encourage us to give, who perhaps, by making themselves the focus of giving, “have their reward” already from the many people who see them promoting a good cause and respond to that. We shouldn’t need to see our name in lights as sponsors, whether we are individuals or governments. But there is no doubt that if we want help on the right scale, the trumpeting works. And, as charities have reminded us, once appeals in the past slipped out of the news, the promised aid stopped coming.
This time, with the tsunami having woken up everyone to a global disaster, and with many other desperate needs perhaps being neglected as a result, a new approach is required. Our giving should not need to be triggered by events such as this, but should be regular and committed. It should be part of a way of life, for individuals, for all commerce, and for nations. The poor will always be with us, and only a sustained programme of aid on a massive scale will stop the gap between the rich and poor getting greater.
Now might just be the time when governments could say that they are going to raise the proportion of GNP given to relieve poverty, rather than lower taxes for those who have enough. Now might be the time to remove the crippling burden of debt for poor nations. Now might be the time to justice in trade. And it might be the time to do it just because it is the right thing to do, not just because we like blowing our own trumpets.
Some news reports purport to tell us what some primates think about the Windsor Report:
Christian Challenge ANGLICAN PRIMATES’ PATIENCE WITH ECUSA’S “DELAYING TACTICS” LIMITED, GOMEZ WARNS
and this: ON WHAT IS OUR ANGLICAN UNITY BASED? - Statement from Five Primates (PDF file)
A number of analyses relating to the Windsor Report have been issued by people who stand on the conservative side of the presenting issue. Here are links to several of these:
Anglican Mainstream issued a Briefing Paper - Church of England General Synod
This is milktoast compared to the next two items.
Church Society, Reform and Fellowship of Word and Spirit issued a brief thunderbolt: Joint Statement on Windsor - CS, Reform and FoWS
Australian evangelicals issued a huge document,criticising the WR in detail, including a paragraph-by-paragraph commentary. Links to the document available via sydneyanglicans.net New rules needed: Aussie evangelicals respond to Windsor Report
If you want a newspaper summary of this, the Church Times had one: Eames found erring
The ACO has announced details of the forthcoming meeting in release ACNS 3939: Media Advisory on the 2005 Primates Meeting from which some extracts are:
The Primates of the Anglican Communion are to hold their regular meeting at the Dromantine Conference Centre near Newry, Northern Ireland, between 21-25 February 2005.
The meeting of the 38 provincial Primates of the Anglican Communion will be centred on Bible study, Eucharist and retreat led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Rowan Williams. It will include careful study of the Windsor Report – the recommendations of the Lambeth Commission on Communion published in October 2004 – and its ongoing reception process.
Chairing the meeting will be Archbishop Rowan and it will be hosted by the Primate of All Ireland and chairman of the Lambeth Commission, the Most Revd Robin Eames. The recently commissioned Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, the Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon, will act as the meeting’s secretary.
As at former meetings, the discussions held over these five days are closed. At the end of the meeting, it is expected that the Primates will issue a communiqué, and that a press briefing will be scheduled at the Dromantine Conference Centre.
A web site containing extensive information regarding the meeting, the Primates, and related material is now online and can be found here: www.anglicancommunion.org/primates/
The Lambeth Commission of Communion web site, the Windsor Report, and related material concerning the report’s reception process can be found here: www.anglicancommunion.org/commission/index.cfm
The new web pages contain inter alia the following:
an Introduction page which summarises the recent history leading up to this meeting.
A current news page for the 2005 meeting: so far it contains only a link to ACNS 3939.
As explained in this press release dated 20 January, a meeting was held on 1 February between the Windsor Report Reception Reference Group and a coalition known as Inclusive Communion:
At the initiative of Changing Attitude, a meeting has been organised with Canon Gregory Cameron, Deputy General Secretary Anglican Consultative Council. Canon Cameron is secretary to the Reception Reference Group, appointed under the chairmanship of the Most Revd Peter Kwong, Primate of Hong Kong, to assist the primates by monitoring the way in which the Windsor Report has been received across the Anglican Communion
The meeting on 1 February will include representatives from member groups of Inclusive Communion, the international lesbian and gay Anglican body established in 2003. Groups known to be sending representatives include Changing Attitude, Integrity USA, LGCM, the Lesbian and Gay Clergy Consultation and the General Synod Human Sexuality Group. Changing Attitude Scotland and Integrity Uganda also hope to be present. Other Inclusive Communion member groups have been invited to submit written submissions.
In the event, the list of those attending was:
Michael Hopkins and Susan Russell (Integrity USA)
Colin and Sally Rogers (Changing Attitudes, England)
Kelvin Holdsworth (Changing Attitude, Scotland)
Paul Collier (General Synod Human Sexuality Group)
Giles Fraser (Inclusive Church)
Richard Kirker and Anthony Braddick-Southgate (LGCM)
Bertrand Olivier (Clergy Consultation)
Susan Russell wrote this report of her experience on this trip: A California Yankee in King Arthur’s Communion.
Some other documents by individuals or groups represented are listed below.
Michael Hopkins Broken Promises Result in a Broken Church
A Scottish Response to the Windsor Report
The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement Response to the Windsor Report
Changing Attitude Recommendations for responding to the Windsor Report
Steve Parish writes in the Guardian about women bishops: All her own work:
We’ve had Anglican women bishops for many years, but the “mother” church will have to wait. The report, Women Bishops in the Church of England? goes to the general synod this month to start a process that, even with a fair wind, will take five years of debate, consultation, legislation and parliamentary approval before royal assent could be given to such ordinations.
There’s time to look afresh at fundamental issues, as the report claims that it “takes nothing for granted”. That’s not strictly true. It does assume that Junia - described, with Andronicus, as “prominent among the apostles” in Paul’s letter to the Romans - was female. So outrageous was that to many commentators (even today) that they argued that it must be a textual error for the masculine “Junias”. Or it is argued that the translation should mean that Junia was “well-known to the apostles” - but not one of them.
Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about an event that has not yet happened, in The death of the Pope.
In the American journal Commonweal, an American RC priest writes about the expected statement from the Vatican about homosexuals in the priesthood, A Gay Priest Speaks Out.
Two other bloggers, Simeon in the Suburbs and Salty Vicar have noted that a Rwandan Anglican bishop who was visiting St Louis, Missouri recently compared the actions of the ECUSA GC 2003 to the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The original St Louis Post-Dispatch article Rwandan bishop’s visit here underscores division reports that:
The Right Rev. Josias Sendegeya, Anglican bishop of Kibungo, Rwanda, and his wife, Dorothee, were in neighboring Burundi during the genocide that took place in their country 10 years ago. Dorothee’s mother and father, brother, sister and eight nephews and nieces were all murdered by Hutu extremists.
Sendegeya draws a parallel between the atrocities committed in Rwanda in 1994 and what happened to the Episcopal Church USA in 2003, when American bishops consecrated an openly gay man as bishop of New Hampshire. The move was seen as a repudiation to more conservative elements of the global Anglican church who oppose the consecration of homosexuals, and it especially offended Anglican bishops in Africa.
“The Rwandan people know what it is to suffer,” said Sendegeya, speaking in French through a translator on a recent trip to St. Louis. “We experienced genocide and the horror that no one in the world came to help us. What has happened in the Episcopal church feels like a genocide, too. But it is spiritual rather than physical.”
Sendegeya believes that the Anglican diocese of Rwanda has come to the rescue of some conservative Episcopal communities in the United States through one of its arms, called The Anglican Mission in America. In 2000 the Rwandan church began establishing footholds in the United States through its mission by usurping the authority of the local American bishop who was typically considered unsatisfactorily liberal by some conservative congregations in his diocese.
Sendegeya is the provincial secretary of the Rwandan church and was in the U.S. for an Anglican Mission in America conference in South Carolina. He then traveled to Memphis and St. Louis to visit individual churches that are based in the United States but are under the authority of his country’s church.
Update Monday 7 February
This bill is dead. See Religious property bill killed in Senate
A bill that would have given congregations that break away from their denomination leverage to retain control of church property died Monday in the state Senate.
Its sponsor, Sen. William Mims, recommended that the measure be referred back to the Senate General Laws Committee, effectively killing the bill.
“My hope is, Mr. President, that it can be solved in the legislative session next year,” said Mims, R-Loudoun.
An extraordinary story is unfolding in Virginia where the state legislature is currently in session.
The Washington Post reported it as Virginia Bill Would Alter Rules on Church Property saying in part:
RICHMOND, Feb. 1 — A bill before the Virginia Senate has alarmed the Episcopal Church and other mainline Protestant denominations that are deeply torn over the ordination of gay ministers and the blessing of same-sex marriages because, they say, the measure would give local congregations unprecedented powers to break away from their national denominations.
Several major church groups on Tuesday urged lawmakers to reject the bill, which they said would entangle state government in church politics.
The bill, now on the Senate floor, would allow congregants to vote to leave their denominations and keep their church buildings and land, unless a legally binding document such as a deed specified otherwise.
The Post also ran an editorial column yesterday opposing the legislation Taking Sides which starts out:
YOU MIGHT expect that in its short legislative session the Virginia General Assembly would have more important business than intervening in internal arguments within the Episcopal Church over gay rights. But a bill pending in the state Senate would make it far easier for Episcopal congregations upset at the church’s consecration of a gay bishop in New Hampshire to bolt from the national church yet keep their buildings and property. The bill, championed by Sen. William C. Mims (R-Loudoun), responds to a real problem: Mr. Mims argues persuasively that Virginia law on the subject is archaic. But his bill would make matters worse, not better. It should be voted down.
The Associated Press carried Virginia’s religious leaders blast church property bill
Other papers in Virginia have also reported and commented on this development:
Richmond Times-Dispatch Churches fight Senate bill - They warn measure is government meddling in affairs of churches
The Falls Church News-Press said in an editorial
Loudoun State Sen. William Mims’ Senate Bill 1305, which would empower local congregations within a church denomination to control their own property, is a blatant, self-serving attempt to cause the state legislature to weigh in on behalf of dissidents within the Episcopal Church opposed to the recent consecration of an openly-gay bishop. Northern Virginia is a hot bed of local Episcopal congregations, including the Falls Church Episcopal Church, that are threatening a schism within the larger Episcopal denomination, but are currently deterred by the fact that the larger church controls the destiny of their property. Mims is a member of one of those dissenting churches.
The Roanoke Times had Senate may skirt church property measure
The Hampton Roads Daily Press published an editorial Internal affairs which concludes with these words:
This is not territory on which the General Assembly should be treading. It is a direct, frontal attack on the right of a denomination to manage its affairs, both with the faithful and with those who leave its flock.
The bill comes from an unsavory source: a relentless, multi-front campaign to constrain the rights and protections of homosexuals. Does anyone believe that the General Assembly would be intervening if the decamping churches were in favor of gay rights?
The Episcopal dioceses of Virginia and across the nation - and other denominations - are trying, in their varied ways and with their varied challenges, to address the rift over homosexuality and larger issues, both doctrinal and social. For the General Assembly to intrude in internal church governance, especially in a way so clearly favoring one faction, is likely unconstitutional and is definitely dangerous and offensive.
The full text of the legislative proposal can be found here.
In case you thought this was nothing to do with the American Anglican Council, they have published this press release enthusiastically supporting the proposal. And copied it over here to make sure we all see it.
For some weeks, I have been meaning to post about a story that The Living Church magazine in the USA is reported to have published about a complaint from Peter Akinola concerning misrepresentation of his remarks: Archbishop Akinola Responds to Accusations which said:
Concerned that a remark he said he never made continues to be circulated, the Primate of Nigeria, the Most Rev. Peter Akinola, has denied accusations that his opposition to the episcopacy of the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson is driven by revulsion of homosexual persons, saying his actions arise from the concern that false teachers are leading the Episcopal Church astray.
“It’s all about responsibility,” Archbishop Akinola told The Living Church. “Everyone has sinned. Everyone needs to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus. If people come to the church and do not hear the message of new life, then we have not fulfilled our responsibility.”
During the debate Oct. 15 at the Diocese of Dallas’s convention [TLC, Nov. 7] over affiliating with the Anglican Communion Network, accusations impugning the archbishop’s beliefs were leveled. “The primate of all Nigeria refers to homosexuals as animals and refuses to repent of that,” said the Rev. Mark Anschutz, rector of St. Michael and All Angels’ Church, Dallas. “I cannot be a party to that kind of network.” That quote was repeated again in the Jan. 23, 2005, issue in a letter to the editor written by Stephen Bates, religious affairs correspondent for The Guardian and author of “A Church At War.”
A number of other British and American newspapers have also repeated the remarks.
The July 13, 2003, issue of The Economist, relying upon an account of synod in the Diocese of Abuja by the Nigerian press, quotes Archbishop Akinola: “I cannot think of how a man in his senses would be having a sexual relationship with another man. Even in the world of animals, dogs, cows, lions, we don’t hear of such things.”
In response, Archbishop Akinola argues, “We are not being responsible or faithful if we say, ‘Let us bless your stealing. Let us bless your adultery.’ When the church in the West says, ‘We bless your homosexual union,’ they have failed people. We should love them better than that,” he said.
In an article he wrote for the Church Times around the same time as the Economist report of July 2003, entitled Why I object to homosexuality Peter Akinola set forth his views on homosexuality at length (it’s around 1000 words long and should be read in full by everyone concerned to understand him) concluding with this:
Homosexuality or lesbianism or bestiality is to us a form of slavery, and redemption from it is readily available through repentance and faith in the saving grace of our Lord, Jesus the Christ.
This last week, the archbishop made a further statement, this time about poverty. In the story from the East African Standard (Nairobi) that I linked to earlier in a different connection, and also in a later report via AllAfrica.com Homosexuality: Church in Africa Not United we learn that:
Some African church leaders, including Archbishop Ndungane and Nobel Peace prize winner, retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have questioned why the Anglican church is spending so much time on the issue of homosexuality, when there are pressing issues such as war, Aids and poverty to be addressed on the continent.
But annoyed at the prolonged questioning on this one issue, Archbishop Akinola, who has led the fight against acceptance of gays in the church and the ordination of gay clergy, said: “I didn’t create poverty. This church didn’t create poverty. Poverty is not an issue, human suffering is not an issue at all, they were there before the creation of mankind.”
Andrew Brown, writing in today’s Church Times comments:
“Human suffering is not an issue at all.” If I worked in the press department at the Episcopal Church in the United States, I would kit out every member of the delegation coming to England next week in a T-shirt with Akinola’s face and that slogan. Then I would offer one, in front of the cameras, to Dr Williams. How fortunate for everyone that I’m not.
In a spirit of perversity, it’s worth defending the idea that strict and homophobic Churches are effective at combating poverty. Archbishop Akinola is mistaken when he supposes that homosexuality is a choice, like adultery, against which one can guard by vigilance. But the idea of ceaseless moral vigilance is not a stupid one. In fact, it is essential for the kind of civil society in which poverty can be overcome because trustworthy institutions and professions exist, and corruption is squeezed out.
The trouble with this argument is simple. It seems to work quite well in Asia; but those African countries with the most bigoted Churches are also among the most corrupt. Maybe they just aren’t strict enough.